by Rev. M.Barnes, Former Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Warsaw
It is a sad commentary on the condition of this world to say that terrorism is nothing new. In its latest manifestation we find Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic Brotherhood, and a host of other identifiers that all have the same goal, the elimination of Western culture and laws and Christian faith, and the establishment of a world-wide Caliphate governed by Sharia law. The means to accomplish these goal are threats, violence, terror, and bloodshed.
I am not here to give a history lesson, or to engage in political debate. I’ll leave that up to you in a different venue. Let’s just say that the means of their goals has been seen yet again, this time on the streets of Paris.
As we struggle to come to terms with such violence I am asked what should be the Church’s proper response. I can give the Lutheran viewpoint and you can take it from there.
We believe that God operates in this world through two kingdoms: the kingdom of the right and the kingdom of the left. The kingdom of the right is the kingdom of grace as seen in His Church. Christ rules over His church in love, guiding and directing her in the mission of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation to the entire world. It is a kingdom in which He directs us to love even our enemies and to pray for them and their conversion. Christians are to be the quintessential speakers of peace and love in the world that flows from our understanding of the cross.
The kingdom of the left are the governmental forces of the world. God works through them to keep order in the world, to punish evildoers, and when needed, to wage just wars for the protection of all. It operates from the basis of the law of God that is written into the hearts of all people.
As government officials can also be true Christians, so also can true Christians operate within the governmental sphere, as both are from God and are therefore ultimately to His glory.
The Christian/Lutheran response to terrorism then is this: we pray for our enemies, for those who do evil and conspire against us and our most holy faith. We love our enemies, our hearts breaking at the demonic madness that enslaves them and praying for their conversion through the power of the Word made Flesh. As citizens we serve as we are called upon to serve for the protection not only of our personal families and friends, but also that of the nation, and yes, even at times the world. Love for humanity directs that protection.
In all this keep in mind that ultimately it is Christ who has the victory. His promises to us are trustworthy, and He has promised that He is returning to put an end of all our suffering in this life. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!